The four and 1/4 hour depiction of the historical and personal events surrounding and including the decisive American civil war battle features thousands of civil war re-enactors marching over the exact ground that the federal army and the army of North Virginia fought on. The defense of the Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge are highlighted in the actual three day battle which is surrounded by the speeches of the commanding officers and the personal reflections of the fighting men. Based upon the novel 'The Killer Angels'. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nearly all of the battle sequences of the First Day (Heth's men deploying into line, exchanging fire only yards in front of Buford's troopers, the artillery explosions, etc.) were filmed entirely by the movie's Second Unit. The First Unit and much of the production staff were several miles away filming the Little Round Top sequences. See more »
Before Picket's Charge, Armistead tells Garnett that he cannot ride into battle because he "will be the perfect target". However, other brigade commanders and their staffs are shown riding in the charge. While Armistead's statement is correct (officers on horseback suffered a disproportionally large percentage of casualties), it is inconsistent with what is shown later. See more »
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain:
Many of us volunteered to fight for the Union. Some came mainly because we were bored at home and this looked like it might be fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many came because it was the right thing to do.
See more »
With a few notable exceptions Schindler's List, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Glory, history based movies usually die quick and quiet in the movie theater (The Messenger, Ride with the Devil, Cobb) History flicks cost a bundle to make with the costumes and the challenge of finding a place to shoot that's nowhere near highways, bridges, and cities, and they don't always appeal to mass audiences.
So it's not that often that really good historical film comes around. As a result, it's good not to be too fussy when one does. Both Gettysburg and the Killer Angels, the book it was based on, were stuffed with historical inaccuracies, the grossest of all being the presence of the 20th Maine regiment anywhere near Pickett's charge (this happens in both the movie and the book).
For all the lengthy soliloquies, historical misses, whitewashed violence, and the fact that only about 30% of the battle of Gettysburg is shown on film, Gettysburg remains as the best effort to capture the sprawling battle of July 1863 on film. Where the movie lacks in realism, it makes up for it's dialogue, and in the scope of the battle scenes, which are on a scale so grand, that the bloodless body count and the inaccurate tactics can be forgiven. The sheer numbers of soldiers taking part in Pickett's charge was breathtaking. Kudos to the reenactors.
Martin Sheen and Tom Beringer were they're usual excellent selves as Lee and Longstreet and for me, their ongoing debate of the strategy of Gettysburg helped make the movie. Other highlights include the disenchantment of Union soldiers at this stage of the Civil War, and the personal trauma Richard Jordan's Lewis Armistead felt at having to fight his friend Winfield Hancock not only in the same war, but in the same sector of the same battle of that war.
Much of Gettysburg has to be viewed with a grain of salt, but until a Stephen Speilberg or other directing genius with a knack for war footage comes along, it's one of the best we have. And it's pretty good.
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